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    Grokules's Avatar
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    Critters, Fruit, Veggies, Dairy, & Eggs

    Primal Blueprint Expert Certification
    Plus more good stuff like chocolate, spices, etc.

    You might call it Primal. I do too, but it lacked pizzazz as a thread title.

    I've been tinkering with Primal for about a year now. I say tinkering because I got sloppy last fall and let the occasional piece of bread, chocolate bar, and pizza sneak in. It was slow and grudging at first, weaseling in at get-togethers and parties where I didn't want to be the rude weirdo who upon being offered a burger would arch an eyebrow and demand to know how the beef was raised. I justified it as my 20%. When 20% grew to 30% and 40%, I convinced myself I could make up for it next week. Over the course of the winter I probably managed a 50/50 split, which is to say I didn't manage much of anything. Next week was always right around the corner, though, always on my mind... Until last week, when I finally stopped being an idiot and said "How about today instead?"

    To say I'm thrilled about Primal is an understatement. When I first discovered this website I was about 240 pounds and a week into my miserable and appalling foray into veganism. Miserable because there is little in the way of actual, satisfying food. Appalling because for my whole adolescent and adult life I'd known that to be the case, and had gotten into more than my fair share of arguments with militant vegans and vegetarians about how unhealthy, incomplete, and contrary to evolution their diet was. I guess you could say I had always been a militant omnivore... While I would not go around picking fights with people over how they ate, nor would I stand by silently if someone started harping on about how healthy and moral not eating animals was. But, haunted by the spectre of my year-old heart attack and the stent it earned me at the age of 29 -- while seemingly in the best health of my life -- teamed with fears over the future for my wife, our one-year-old twin boys, and our newest month-old son, suffocating fear galvanized me to start seeking answers. The first ones I found came from Esselstyn and Campbell.

    In my defense, the previous year had been a time of great worry, confusion, and cognitive dissonance. I have been an athlete for as long as I can remember, and around the age of thirteen I really got into health and nutrition, subscribing to magazines like Muscle & Fitness and really focusing in on what I was eating. Needless to say, saturated fat morphed into the devil, and while I had little control over the groceries that came into the house, I clearly remember the confused disgust on my older brother's face when I convinced my mom to have parallel milk jugs on the go, one with the 2% that the family enjoyed, and a second with skim milk for me. For roughly sixteen years I championed low- and non-fat varieties of food, healthy whole grains, the leanest meats (red sparingly), egg whites, the whole nine yards. I would eat junk food from time to time, absolutely, but nobody with even an ounce of conventional wisdom would describe my diet as anything other than healthy. I exercised, not religiously, but enough that even when I hadn't touched a weight in six months people always assumed I worked out. So, after my heart attack, when my cardiologist told me I needed to change my diet, then gave me literature from The Heart and Stroke Foundation that described the ideal diet for me as almost exactly how I'd already been eating, everything seemed pretty hopeless.

    The heart attack was discovered early in January of 2012, when my wife was roughly eight months pregnant with our twins. We had ordered Chinese food on New Year's Eve and the chicken balls I ate had not been thoroughly cooked, resulting in a severe case of salmonella poisoning that got into my blood. Luckily my wife has never cared for chicken balls... I don't care to think about what would have happened had she ingested that poison. When I finally went to the hospital a week later to find out what was causing the excruciating pain in my stomach (I'm a pretty stoic guy, strong, "tough", and typically reserved, but I was getting jolts of pain that would literally curl me up and force agonized screams from my throat), the nurse took me into a back room and drew a bit of blood. About five minutes passed and I was suddenly surrounded by nurses, hooking up EKGs, drawing more blood, and conversing quietly amongst themselves while darting glances at me.

    "You've probably realized," began the first nurse, coming close and giving me a sympathetic smile, "that we're not worried about your stomach."

    There was very little pain at the time, so I smiled and made a smartass remark about how it actually seemed perfectly normal to me to generate this much of a fuss, especially among women, for no reason at all. I hadn't noticed the doctor approach on my other side. There was a distinct lack of appreciation for my humour as he told me I was having a heart attack.

    I didn't want to tell them that was impossible, but that's how I felt. "What? No way. Are you sure?"

    They were sure. I was rushed to a cardiac centre in the next city and had an angiogram, which revealed considerable plaque buildup in several arteries, including one at about 95% which was causing the heart attack. They got me to sign a waiver absolving them of responsibility if I died, then tried to open it with a balloon, and when that failed, inserted a stent. It was about this time that my wife showed up and saw me through the glass. At the first hospital, under the unnecessary advice of the nurse, I called my wife and asked her to come meet me at the hospital they were about to rush me to, lying and staying ultra vague about what was going on, telling her it wasn't serious but that I wouldn't be able to drive home. Luckily it was just after 5am (I had gotten up early in hopes of getting some medication and going into work) so she was very groggy and didn't realize how suspicious I was acting. She arrived just as the stent was put in, seeing me on a stretcher in a giant glass enclosure with a team of doctors operating on me by way of machine.

    I'm proud to report that my wife is also quite stoic and there was no early labour. Even though I was hospitalized for an additional week thanks to the salmonella (it took them a while to figure out what it was, and I ended up in an isolation cell while that happened, meaning my visitors had to wear masks and full-body garb to come in my room), and once released had to go down to the local hospital every morning for IV antibiotic treatment (until I convinced them that I could just as easily do it at home if they would give me the supplies... I'm still shocked they allowed it), our twins were delivered by C-section on the scheduled date in February. I'm amazed at how well she handled all the stress, especially considering that I was suddenly desperate to find a new job since I could hardly return to being a mover, which is what I'd been doing for the past two years after being laid off from my last cushy job, trying to find another.

    That's how I was seemingly in the best shape of my life. When I had my heart attack, I was 190 pounds at 6' tall, my abs were easily visible (though I maintained a respectable layer of protective flab), I had energy to spare after 12 and 14 hour days of moving furniture and boxes up and down flights of stairs, and while I wasn't quite Spartanesque, I looked more the part than when I had gone out as Leonidas for Halloween a few years before. I slammed protein fruit shakes all day, along with chicken and/or tuna sandwiches on whole wheat. Lots of good protein and carbs, very little fat. If you want to have your mind blown, figure out the caloric requirements of a mover working 12-14 hours per day.

    With an absurd amount of luck and good timing, I found the perfect job in April and have been there ever since. But I was advised against doing anything strenuous, and despite (continuing) eating "healthily", ballooned up to around 240 pounds by March of last year. I rationalized that being a mover had wrecked my metabolism, and it would simply take time for it to adjust to my more sedentary lifestyle, but there was always that haunting feeling... And there was that plaque in my arteries, choking away my life.

    My first epiphany was that everything I knew about nutrition was potentially wrong. That was a hell of a thing to wrap my mind around after considering myself quite knowledgeable on the subject for nearly two decades, over half my life. So I opened myself to all possibilities and began seeking out ways to halt and (could it be possible?!) reverse heart disease. As I was reading Campbell and Esselstyn and watching their documentaries, something about it seemed off to me, but I was desperate and they boasted of their results and findings. I adopted Esselstyn's diet, full-stop, and continued reading everything I could about it.

    Luckily, I've had a lot of experience with confirmation bias, not to mention arguing about omnivorism v. veganism (and I was feeling awful), so after about a week I stopped reading things that supported their argument and started reading the criticisms. I credit Denise Minger with snapping me out of the vegan hypnosis... I'm a trusting person, but once I find out you've been purposely deceiving me, that you've been cooking the books and presenting me with anything other than the science while proclaiming the purest scientific integrity, then barring a miracle I have yet to experience or even fathom you land firmly and permanently on my shit list. If you have an agenda that colours your research, fine, state it up front... Then I can observe it through that prism... But pretending that it worked the opposite way, and that all of the research grudgingly convinced you of your agenda... Permanent shit list.
    Last edited by Grokules; 03-12-2014 at 11:50 AM.

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    But I had more cognitive dissonance. Because Esselstyn's system did work. Even if only in a few people, he was able to halt and even reverse atherosclerosis, so it seemed reasonable to me that something his diet eliminated was at least partially responsible for it.

    It was as I was mulling this over that I discovered Mark Sisson and this website. Reading through Mark's ideas and arguments was a life-changing experience for me. It was epiphany after epiphany, like he climbed into my mind, took all the disjointed pieces of my ideas, and spread them out before me in a complete puzzle, a masterpiece. Intuitively, it all fit. Evolutionarily, it all fit. And scientifically... Well, I've yet to see the basic premise falsified, and better yet, the main things he wants me to eliminate coincide with things Esselstyn's diet eliminated. The difference is what they keep and why. Intuitively, evolutionarily, scientifically, reasonably, I have to side with Sisson.

    The more and better I read and explore, the more I think Primal is the way to go. But as my wife pointed out to me as I excitedly tried to explain it all, I tend toward OCD, and "You're so excited about this right now, and you want us all to eat like this, but what about in six months? You might think this is retarded by then." And I had to concede she was right. It was possible I would think that. And yet I knew I wouldn't. The ideas resonated. They made sense. They had the unmistakable vibration of truth.

    They still do, only now they're fortified by anecdote and experience. Nagging pains and injuries that I'd developed as a mover and had lingered without the slightest abatement in the year following were completely gone by May. I was back down to 195 pounds and feeling great within three or four months. The intermittent chest pain that was scaring me senseless disappeared. And even though I've betrayed the principles over the past few months, I still feel great, I still feel healthy, and I feel even more galvanized to make this a lifestyle.

    I need to wrap this up and go to bed, but yeah... To say I'm thrilled with Primal is an understatement.
    Last edited by Grokules; 03-11-2014 at 08:52 PM.

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    Grokules, that is an amazing story. I am so glad you survived your heart attack, your wife and children are fine and that you have changed to primal. It really is a thrilling discovery, and I wish you all the best on your continued journey to health.

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    Thanks, Annie.

    One of the most surprising aspects of the conversion was the reaction of my cardiologist when I informed him of what I was trying at a follow-up visit. After a battery of tests and running me on the treadmill for a while, he let me know I was safe to stop taking all the pills he had initially prescribed except for the statin and aspirin. At first he was pretty peeved when I told him I had already stopped all medication months before, but he lightened up when I explained why and we had a good discussion about the problems with statins and the shortcomings of the research supporting their use. While he would not outright endorse the cessation, citing studies correlating statin-use with fewer repeat infarctions, he was open to the idea that I could lessen my inflammation in other ways. He wouldn't budge on the aspirin because of the stent and the potential for it to cause a clot if my body started attacking it, but overall it was a pleasant visit... I had truly been expecting a long and bitter argument, culminating with him taking offense at the uppity young guy in his office questioning his vast experience, knowledge, and training, and defying his recommendations. Instead, he genuinely seemed happy that I was putting in the effort to figure things out and discover what had happened and how I might change to prevent a recurrence. His humility was humbling.

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    It sounds like he was delighted to have a patient who actively does want to manage his own health and reduce the inflammation through lifestyle changes. Most people probably expect him to prescribe medications to "fix" them. He has given you good reasons for continuing the aspirin, obviously it was a very useful conversation on both sides.

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    Prior to Primal I had never once in my life eaten a piece of liver. Never tasted it, never smelled it, and honestly, never even looked at it when I was in a store. The scant bit I knew about it came from popular culture, and that basically began and ended with how horrible it tastes. Sure it was supposed to be a superfood, but I had pills to make up for that.

    For a year now I've been trying to incorporate it into my diet, but man... The rumours could not have been more true. Everything about it reaches deep into the back of my throat to make me gag. It's frustrating, as there is no possible reason it should taste so ridiculously awful. I'm not a fan of onions, so I couldn't use them to overpower it as friends recommended... I tried wrapping it in bacon, but all that accomplished was making the bacon taste bad (!), so I had to abandon that before my mind made any unsavory connections.

    Stubbornly, I would fry it in butter and garlic, cut it into penny-sized pieces, smother it in ketchup, chew/swallow as quickly as possible, then chase it with a gulp of milk. I literally shuddered after every bite, and one time my wife, incredulous at the pathetic spectacle, demanded to know if I was crying. I most certainly was not, but I felt like it. So that's how it has been every couple of weeks for the past year... Downing four ounces of liver would take me 30-45 minutes every time, and more often than not I'd even partially wuss out by sharing with the pets.

    Until tonight. Tonight I decided I would risk ruining meatza by incorporating liver and untold quantities of pungent spices into the recipe. I am pleased, proud, and ultimately relieved to report that a pound of ground beef, spinach, an egg, a man-sized-mouse-inspiring amount of cheese, bacon, ketchup, and copious amounts of spices were able to dominate the unholy foulness of 4 ounces of the superfood, to the point where I actually enjoyed eating it. Evilly, the taste is still there, and the aftertaste is haunting me even now as I type, but this is still a huge victory.

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    Hi Grokules!

    I'm chuckling at the liver story. I think I'd hate it also if I smothered it in ketchup (which I loathe) and drank it with milk. If you search this website for "pate," you should come up with a few different ways to cook it.

    In this thread: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread63706.html , I shared this:

    Quote Originally Posted by JoanieL View Post
    My Easy Shiksa's Version of Chopped Chicken Liver

    Sweet vermouth - not a lot, maybe 1/4-1/2 cup
    ch. livers
    onions to taste
    s&p to taste

    Saute everything 'til livers are cooked through and vermouth is pretty much gone. Let cool. Mash with fork, or if you want it really creamy, put in food processor.

    Chill in fridge. Spread on an innocuous tasting veggie (celery, fennel, baby bok choy).
    Cooking chicken livers through means leaving them pinkish in the center.

    I've also done the same thing by using curry powder, a teeny tiny bit of stevia (to replace the sweet of the vermouth), and maybe a tablespoon of butter when I don't want alcohol in the dish.

    A friend of mine told me that pork liver is milder than chicken liver, but I've never tried it, so it's hearsay.

    Another way to go might be something called Boudin, which is basically ground pork shoulder, ground (pork or chicken) liver, spices, and rice, all rolled into balls and pan fried, or if you have a sausage maker, made into sausage. There are tons of recipes for it on the web.

    Liver and onions with bacon is also a traditional way to prepare it. Again, tons of recipes online.

    If, after many tries, you don't like liver, don't force it. If it's vitamin A you seek, you can get it in many orange veggies.

    Good luck with all of your health goals!
    "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

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    I'm not a big fan of liver except for pate, that I like. What I do is I buy chicken livers, take a small amount and mix it into burgers or meatloaf. I saute onions (maybe you could use something else,perhaps mushrooms) let the onions cool and then put them in the food processor with the livers, it makes a pinkish puree. I then take that mixture and add it to the ground beef along with other seasonings. If you only add a small amount of liver you can't taste it. My husband and son eat it and they hate liver even more than me.
    Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.

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    Awesome. Thanks, ladies. Is it just a coincidence that you're both partial to chicken liver? I've only ever tried beef liver, and I'd instantly ruled out pate due to reading/hearing about it being a spread, which made me assume that it would not be cooked... A proposition that gets more and more horrifying the more I think about it. Sounds like I'm on the right track by mixing it into the ground beef, and even the twins ate a few bites of the liver meatza before declaring "Yuck! Yuck!" whenever the fork came near.

    I'm under the impression there's a lot more to liver than just the absurd vitamin A content. Particularly of interest to me is the CoQ10 for my heart, but I like a lot of the other stuff too, like the B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, etc. I recently read about tryptophan being good for the heart as well, but I need to do more reading there.

    Perhaps one of the strongest selling points of liver for me is the reaction of my pets when I share it with them. I have never seen anything like it. Especially our old dog. We had to put her down last fall, but while she was alive, well... My wife had adopted her from a shelter a couple of years before we met... She was a pit bull and had been in the shelter for almost two years (it is a "no-kill" shelter), ever since she was rescued from a dog-fighting operation where she had been a bait dog. Apparently, nobody wanted to adopt her because of the stigma attached to the breed (they're outright banned where I live, except for those grandfathered in before the ban date), fears that psychological trauma might cause her to snap or become aggressive, and because the bastards who ran the dog fights had beaten her deaf. I must admit it was weird for me when they first moved in as I'd always had dogs that could hear, and sound and play were big parts of how I interacted with them, but my wife had fallen in love with and adopted her the day they met.

    Despite being one of the gentlest and most loving dogs I've ever met, she was skittish, especially around men, and doubly so around larger men. This did not change over the years I lived with her, and on some level I think she resented me getting in between her and my wife's sisterhood, breaking up their perfect single-lady lifestyle. Within the first few days of moving in she peed on my console gaming system, and a week later I awoke at 5am with her on my chest gagging, right before she puked all over me. Things did improve slowly, but she made it plain she did not care for my presence, until last year when I started my feeble attempts at eating liver. Suddenly she LOVED me. As soon as I would get it out she would bolt into the kitchen (despite hobbling up and down stairs, and generally pretending to be old and sore the rest of the time) and continually settle and resettle right beside me, nuzzling me every few seconds to make sure I remembered to share. It was nothing like when I made steak or any other kind of meat... For those she'd be happy and slightly bothersome, but for liver she was downright fawning, aggressively fawning if there can be such a thing. It was hilarious how excited she was for liver, and those moments we shared -- I in agony and she exuberant -- are some of my fondest memories now that she's gone.

    Now we have two cats and they're the exact same way. One we got as a kitten, and she acts normal, the other my wife rescued from living in a box on somebody's porch for the first 8 months of his life. This rescued cat is petrified of people and will not socialize with us whatsoever, despite having lived here since around November. If we get close he bolts, and we mostly only see him when he's hungry. Then a few weeks ago, when I decided to get back into the liver, I put some in their dishes at dinnertime, waited for them to finish eating, then put some more in my hands and went over. He came right up to me, purring as loud as I've ever heard a cat purr, and took it right from my palm. He immediately went back to being a dick once the liver was gone, but when I made it again he was once again bold, brave, and brotherly.

    I have no idea why they all love it so much... But sometimes you have to trust their instincts are better than ours (feces-related stuff excepted, obviously).
    Last edited by Grokules; 03-17-2014 at 06:46 PM.

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